Tampa Bay’s Rising Concern: Derelict Boats and the Growing Threat to Coastal Safety


The picturesque waterfronts of Manatee County face a growing concern as derelict boats become alarming for business owners. Up to 30 vessels, potential navigational hazards, pose risks to fishing and recreational boats. New challenges emerge, including homeless individuals squatting in these vessels, prompting the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to urge quick action by affected owners before enforcement orders.

The waterfronts of Manatee County grapple with escalating issues—abandoned boats. Business owners witness up to 30 derelict vessels, creating potential navigational hazards. The issue, long plaguing law enforcement and vessel operators, deepens with homeless individuals squatting in these boats. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission actively encourages affected owners to take swift action before enforcement orders are implemented. They emphasize the gravity of the problem and the potential dangers associated with abandoned boats.

The financial impact becomes evident as a massive sailboat, torn loose during a hurricane, causes damage to a neighbor’s dock. Beyond navigational concerns, boats wash up into mangroves, onto county property, or become hazards in the bay. Manatee County acknowledges the multifaceted issue and the risks associated with abandoned vessels.

A new dimension emerges across Florida as officials discover squatters taking over abandoned boats. Concerns about waste disposal on inoperable vessels are expressed. Removing derelict vessels poses a financial and bureaucratic challenge, with a minimum 90-day process and costs of up to $15,000. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission acknowledges nearly 1,000 active investigations despite years of efforts. Authorities appeal for public cooperation and patience in addressing this complex issue as concerns rise for the waterfronts of Manatee County.